Core Functioning for Fertility
Along with fertility massage, core exercises help to strengthen and balance the muscles and connective tissues that hold the organs in their correct place. This has large implications for health and fertility as many important systems reside in the torso area.
The immune and digestive systems could be called one and the same since as much as 80% of our immunity is formed in the digestive system (the gut). Similarly the organs, nerves and muscles of the abdominal cavity all share common pathways and communicate with each other. The reproductive system also shares many of these pathways with the guts, hence any disease or malfunctions can impact reproduction itself. This commonality helps us to understand why during menstruation many women typically have back pain or cramping in the stomach. Not surprisingly digestive problems are linked to hormone imbalances and reproductive conditions such as PCOS, Endometriosis, fibroids hence infertility. So the importance of a fully functioning core and digestive system cannot be stressed enough.
What is the Core?
Core muscles can be viewed as the bridge between the upper and lower body that stabilises and enables the body to perform movements optimally. The core muscles include the exterior and interior core. The exterior core includes muscles such as abdominals, external Oblique’s, hip flexors, but generally most of the large muscles that help us move. The main interior core muscles include the transverses abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor. These smaller muscles aid in stabilising the trunk, support the internal organs and aid in circulation. Changes in the core also lead to muscle imbalances, which often reflect in changes of posture.
The Inner Unit became a term describing the functional synergy between the transversus abdominis and posterior fibers of the oblique’s internus abdominis, pelvic floor muscles, multifidus and lumbar portions of the longissimus and iliocostalis, as well as the diaphragm. Research showed that the inner unit was under separate neurological control from the other muscles of the core. This explained why exercises targeting muscles such as the rectus abdominis, oblique’s externus abdominis and psoas, the same muscles exercised with traditional abdominal conditioning programs used in gyms and athletic programs worldwide such as sit ups, were very ineffective at stabilizing the spine and reducing chronic back pain.
How do I activate or engage it?
One of the most important things you can do to improve posture and core function is to make sure you are breathing correctly. This is done by breathing diaphragmatically.
The first thing to note is upon inhalation (breathing in), the air should expand the stomach first then move up to the chest. This activates the many trunk muscles that stabilize us, and helps us to move correctly. Practice this by putting your hand on your stomach while you breath, alternatively use this method of breathing with meditation.
The transversus abdominus is the key muscle as regards to core control. This muscle is like an inner belt and acts on the lower back and pelvis. There are two simple methods to activate this muscle.
Method 1 The simple action of drawing in the belly button towards the spine contracts this muscle, stiffens the spine and creates stability between the upper and lower extremities. In order to move safely during any movement, activating the core is paramount to avoiding back pain. The transversus abdominus should be trained to be activated whenever we move or exercise.
Method 2 The other good way to ensure activation whilst moving or exercising more vigorously is to breathe out through pursed lips during the hard part of the exercise or moment (usually against resistance or gravity). This braces the core and creates intra abdominal pressure which activates the muscles in a similar way. Get into the habit of breathing and activating the core correctly and you’re moving in the right direction towards avoiding back pain. Don’t forget, all the techniques above are transferable to real life too, so whether you are picking up or lifting something, the same rules apply. Use these methods on all exercises and movements.
Download the Core Functioning for Fertility article for a series of simple but highly effective exercises and movements, if performed correctly will strengthen and stabilize your torso, enabling you to move more freely in a healthier manner and along with stretches improve posture.
Author: Donovan Blake MSc.
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